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The Intelligent Teleworking Software Solution
Guest Blog from Mark Hummel, SAAS 44° To Telework or Not: How to Decide
Written by RWorks
Monday, 10 January 2011 13:08

To Telework or Not: How to Decide?    
                      Written by Mark Hummel SaaS 44°    

 

Many companies, as well as employees are contemplating whether a teleworking practice is right for them. Employers worry about whether employees will continue to be productive, while many employees are looking for more flexible work hours and environment to meet the challenges of their life.
In this article, we will address questions that both employers and employees have when faced with teleworking.

"I don't think that my employees will be as productive working at home."

 

In many studies, companies have reported an increase in productivity of 20-50% from their teleworkers.

Many teleworkers report that they are more productive due to the lack of disruptions, stress and commuting time. Employees are able to focus more on the tasks at hand without the usual office interruptions. By virtually eliminating commuting time, employees usually will work a little longer, as they don't have to worry about beating traffic to and from work. In fact, many report working additional hours as it is easily accessible to do so in their homes.

Don't be fooled in thinking that employees will work harder or be more productive simply because they are in the office. If an employee wants to goof off, they will find ways to do so, whether they are in the office or working from home.

Consider which employees are suitable for teleworking when implementing a teleworking policy. Look both at the job that is performed, as well as the employee. Look for the jobs that are spent mostly in front of the computer: Clerical, programming, designing, finance and accounting, sales roles, outbound callers and call-centres are all good candidates.Consider the employee's performance as well. A good performer that requires little direction and/or monitoring is a great candidate for teleworking.

 Which leads to the next question....

 

 "How do I manage teleworkers?"

Any worker, whether an employee that works in the office or is a teleworker has only one thing to do in their role: be productive. Managing teleworkers is not really all that much different than managing all employees. What is important is that you have measurable goals that allow both the employee and manager to monitor the productivity and attainment of the goals and ultimately the company's success.

What is important is that you put in a timely management policy to assist both you and the employee. Ensure that you have regular meetings (ie one a week, bi-weekly) either by phone or in person to discuss the employee's work and attainment of goals. This will keep the employee on track as well as allow the manager to be sure that their employee is being productive.

"Teleworking is too expensive to implement"

Yes, there are upfront costs. At the very least, an employee will need a computer, a second phone line, internet connection, and a secure connection to the company's systems.

However, in a study conducted by Nortel, it was found that the entire cost of setting up a teleworker is made up in the first year if only 3.5 days are away from work are saved by allowing the employee to work from home. Time lost due to doctor's appointments, ill children, employee illness or other personal situations can be minimized if the employee is able to work from home. Nortel also found that the number drops to only 1.5 days in subsequent years, accounting for the annual on-going costs of supporting teleworkers.

In addition, there are costs that can be offset. Reduction in required office real estate, office supplies and equipment, electricity and other areas can be reduced by sending employees home to work on a regular basis. One study shows that employees actually print less documents when they work at home, further reducing printing and paper costs.

Also, the employee will be allowed to write off a part of their home expenses against their taxes. This costs the organization nothing, and provides the employees with the added benefit of reducing their personal income taxes.

Finally, it reduces the carbon footprint of the employee, as they minimize or eliminate their commute time, and therefore their car emissions.

"As a teleworker, I'm afraid that I will be overlooked for promotions as I am not in the office"

First and foremost, managers and employers promote those that are capable and perform well. Your first priority is to meet and exceed the goals and expectations of your employer. Your manager or employer will know that you are a successful employee.

That being said, it is important to maintain your "visibility" at the company. This can be accomplished by ensuring that you have regular face to face meetings at the office, and by communicating with your colleagues through both email and telephone.

If you have reached a significant milestone or goal at the company, don't be shy to ask your manager to "publicize" your accomplishment, whether through your company's Intranet or regular internal newsletters or correspondence. If you have a good manager, they will be more than pleased to promote your accomplishments (remember, it makes them look good too!)

 

"What do I need to do to implement teleworking?"

As mentioned, you need to provide the basics to the employee to allow them to work effectively at home. This means a computer, a second telephone line, internet connectivity, printer if necessary, desk if necessary and access to the company programs and information.

While most employees will have a computer at home, it is highly recommended that you give the employee either a work laptop or computer. You don't want to compromise your network, and therefore you want to stress to your employee that they need to separate their work and personal use of the computer. The same policies that are in force for using computers in the office need to apply to employees with work computers at home.

It is also recommended that you provide a second telephone line for business use to their home. This will maintain the level of professionalism when the employee takes or makes calls from the home office.

With today's technology, it is also very cost effective to implement a Voice over IP (VoIP) solution whereby the teleworker is connected to the main telephone system. There is no need for a second telephone line, and maintains the appearance of the employee working from the main office, as well as many other functions and features. VoIP can also provide a significant overall cost savings to the organization.

The employee will need access to the company's software programs and information infrastructure. In most cases, this is simply a matter of providing access to email remotely. Usually this can be provided by a VPN, or accessing the email through a web client.

In other cases where access is needed to a software system (ie Finance system, ERP system etc) a VPN connection will usually be all that is required for access. Check with your IT department, IT consultant or software provider to see what may need to be implemented.

Almost all employees will have an internet connection, so this will not normally be an issue.

From an employee perspective, it is advisable that you find a spot in the home to set up "your office" to minimize distractions and allow you to focus.

 

Teleworking is a great alternative to attract quality employees and keep employees loyal as well.

Many studies show that the majority of workers are now looking for alternative and flexible work schedules. In a recent Robert Half study, 33% of employers said that allowing telecommuting and flexible work schedules is the most effective way of attracting top employee candidates, second only to offering higher salaries than competitors.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

SaaS 44° offers many services to enable teleworking. We also have relationships with organizations that specialize in assisting organizations in implementing teleworking policies and procedures.

Contact us at mark@saas44.com 

(This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )or by calling Canada  647-476-3556 ex 224.
 
 

 

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